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Drama works at the office

Myth:  Drama works at the office. 

Truth: Reality TV shows. National Enquirer. TMZ.  Got to love all of them.  But it’s so much better to be a voyeur than a participant at work.

She was leaving to take a new job and we were doing an “exit” interview.  She said that she felt she had bigger opportunities with her new company and it was a better cultural fit for her.  She was very positive about her experience working for me and was thankful for the opportunity.  I told her I would gladly give her a reference in the future.  She had done some great analysis for us and had really raised the bar in the marketing department.  I got her personal contact information so that we could stay in touch and wished her well in her new assignment, thanking her for the work she had done while she was a part of our team.  I felt certain our paths would cross again because it is, after all, a very small world.

As it turns out, too small.  At least for her.

On the day when I wished her good luck, and she tearfully explained why she was leaving, I had no idea what havoc she had created before she left.  It turns out that she told several people how much money she made.  And the people she told had more experience than her and were actually making less money.  As the story unfolded, it became clear she had shared this because she thought these employees should make an issue out of it with management. 

As she went on her merry way to the next stop of what I imagine will be a bumpy and complex career, she left behind the seeds of discontent.  Really great people were left feeling underappreciated and screwed.

Amazing the negative impact one person’s drama on an organization.

Don’t be that person.

Drama is created when someone blabs on without knowing the facts, when they try to incite others toward anger and other negative emotions, and when private issues are spoken about in public.  Salaries are confidential and private.  It is an employee’s arrangement with the company, agreed upon based on many factors that have nothing to do with other people.  Certain jobs are considered more complex. 

Often a salary at a previous job will help determine what the company will pay now. In this case, the gal in question had a job that required an elevated set of skills, was hired because she had great potential in the company, and her salary was based on a premium to what she made at her previous job.

Second, it wasn’t her business to negotiate for others.  Most of us have no idea what each employee’s particular history is.  In this example, this gal had no context for the personal performance or raises of others.  Actually, both employees had been recognized for their work and had been given appropriate raises.  She incited discontent that was entirely unnecessary.

What was the outcome of her busy work? She ruined her own reputation. I would never hire this gal again nor would I give her a positive reference.  In fact, I would give her no reference at all, which in effect is a negative endorsement.  She created her own luck, albeit bad luck.

And this is where the small world comes in.  Everything that we do in our careers contributes to our reputation.  And reputation is the most important asset you can have.  So doing things that build your reputation is key.  And don’t think you will never see that person you dissed again. You probably will!

My ex-employee obviously created some drama at the office that did not help anyone and actually will hurt her in the future.  How do you avoid becoming “that girl?”

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Jane Miller

Jane Miller is a CEO, career expert, public speaker, author and animal lover. Jane runs JaneKnows.com, a career website that provides support, resources and tools for those climbing the corporate ladder. She is releasing her first book, Sleep Your Way to the Top (and Other Myths About Business Success), in May 2014. Currently the president & CEO of Rudi’s Organic and Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakeries in Boulder, Jane has had a 30-year career leading and managing businesses for HJ Heinz Company, Bestfoods Baking Company, and PepsiCo. Jane is passionate about helping others, outing her mistakes, telling stories and sharing her wisdom.

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